Wenger blew the deal - Rustu

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NEW Barcelona goalkeeper Rustu Reber has blasted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for treating him like a child rather than a respected professional and says the Frenchman blew the chance to sign him for nothing.

The ex-Fenerbahce ace earned a reputation as one of the world's top shot-stopper's for his heroics in helping the Turkish national side to a place in the semi-finals of last summer's World Cup finals, and The Gunners immediately signed an option that enabled them to have first rights on him when he became a free agent in June 2003.

The Turk says he agreed terms with the Highbury chief on a move to North London but then the two became embroiled in an argument over the goalkeeper's fitness which scrapped the move at the 11th hour.

"The deal was almost complete with Arsenal when I met Wenger," he said. "But at that point he seemed to get obsessed with my back and asked me whether it gave me any problems.

"I told him it was absolutely fine and that it caused me no worries, but he insisted he needed a second opinion.

"That annoyed me and I told him that I wasn't just some 19-year-old he could treat as he wanted.

"I told Wenger that if he didn't believe me then hadn't he bothered watching the World Cup and how I performed there? That was the point at which everything collapsed."

Rustu is not the only keeper Wenger has failed to persuade to Highbury as he desperately seeks an experienced custodian to take the pressure off youngster Stuart Taylor, whom Wenger by his own admission, is unsure can go the entire season as first-choice.

The 31-year-old also revealed that prior to signing for Barca, Wenger attempted to get back in touch with the player's agent but was given a short response, stating the Frenchman had missed his chance to land his man.